Dwight Brock found himself in a nasty political campaign last week.
Oddly enough, it wasn't his.
Brock's name appeared at the bottom of a scathing email sent Wednesday to voters in Collier County Commission District 3 by SCREWED, a political action committee that, among other things, is opposing the candidacy of challenger Bill McDaniel.
SCREWED, the creation of Vanderbilt Beach convenience store owner David Jeskie, who fought the county's plan to build a large concession stand on the beach near his store, stands for Stop Commissioners Receiving and Wasting Everyone's Dollars.
The blast email begins, "Bill McDaniel ... is Bad for Collier County." It goes on to make several claims against McDaniel, the owner of Big Island Excavating, a local mining operation.
It labels McDaniel a "self-serving land baron," and states, "His companies are probably near bankruptcy, since much of his digging equipment has been repossessed because of delinquent payments."
McDaniel dismisses the allegations. "About the only thing that is truthful, I do own 1,100 acres in Collier County," he said.
But what struck McDaniel, and others who saw the email, is the last line, which reads, "Dwight Brock Campaign … Naples, 34117, United States."
Is Brock in league with SCREWED taking up against McDaniel?
"I don't even know who David Jeskie is," Brock responds.
After checking, he learned that Chuck Roth, who is donating computer services to Brock's campaign, also is donating similar services to SCREWED.
In creating the SCREWED email, Roth used a template he had previously used for a Brock message. He failed to remove mention of Brock's name at the bottom, Roth admits. "I guess I'm the ultimate guy that's responsible," Roth said. "I guess I won't be going to work for those two campaigns."
Brock emailed McDaniel and spoke to him on the phone Friday to explain the error. "That's terrible. I feel bad," Brock said. "I had no idea about it, no knowledge of it," he said.
McDaniel said he believes Brock is sincere but that the damage is done. "Someone dropped the ball. How he (Brock) responds is up to him. I'm good personally with Dwight. When I saw that I could not believe he would do something like that. It had to be an error. But who gets held to account? Nobody."
The email points out McDaniel has been delinquent on paying property taxes in Collier County, a point also made in a mailer sent to District 3 residents by incumbent Commissioner Tom Henning.
McDaniel acknowledges being late on some payments in 2009 and 2010 but says he and his partner decided to defer payments in order to meet other expenses, such as payroll. "We are suffering through these economic times," he said.
He and his companies paid a total of more than $1.5 million in various taxes last year, he said. "We pay our taxes."
As for his financial arrangements, "My debt structure, my business, is none of your (Jeskie's) business. My equipment is not being repossessed," McDaniel said.
Jeskie is SCREWED's only officer but it has a handful of financial supporters, some of whom have also given money to the campaigns of Brock and Henning.
Pelican Bay resident Robert Naegele gave $1,000 to the PAC in April as well as donating $500 to both Brock and Henning this year. Ted Raia, also a Pelican Bay resident, gave $100 to the PAC, $500 to Brock and $100 to Henning.
Brock, who faces an electoral challenge from former Safelite CEO John Barlow, says there is no connection between him, SCREWED, Henning or the effort against McDaniel. After being criticized for endorsing Commissioner Georgia Hiller in her 2010 campaign, Brock says he's staying out of this one. "I can assure you I'm not involved in it. I suppose I learned my lesson about endorsements," he said.
Jeskie didn't return a call for comment and Roth says he doesn't know if the PAC will send out a follow-up email explaining Brock wasn't involved in the original. "They're all so mad at me, I don't know what they're going to do. I am persona non grata," Roth said.